Airmen practice decontamination skills to kick off exercise

by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Sutton
51st Fighter Wing PAO

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea  -- More than 50 Airmen along with Wing Inspection Team members here quietly started the readiness exercise Beverly Midnight 15-03 Aug. 18, 2015.

 Airmen practiced processing through a collective protection system dormitory after being moved thru stations where they simulated decontaminating themselves.

 The CPS is a standby system within designated facilities that is activated when there is a chemical or biological threat. The CPS function is also used for facility occupants and shelter management team training during exercises.

 "This training provides a realistic scenario where we can evaluate the time it takes to move personnel into a CPS rest and relief facility," said 1st Lt. Trent Lucas, 51st Civil Engineer Squadron readiness and emergency management flight commander.  "We are responsible for fight tonight readiness. When we talk about how we provide rest and relief to people who are going off-shift, one of the most important factors is how can we get them into a facility that provides them a toxic-free environment to eat, drink, relax and sleep."

 Approximately 25 Airmen were processed every hour through the decontamination stations and safely entered the CPS dormitory.

 "This exercise sets the expectation going forward for how quickly we can get personnel into the facility," said Lucas. "It changes how we release people from shifts, how we move people around the base, it tells us what kinds or types of equipment we will need and how can we make every aspect better. This ensures they can get up and go continue the mission each and every day."

 To add a larger sense of realism to this particular event, members opened and applied the M-295 decontamination kits.

 "I thought that being able to use the decontamination pads, step into the water and feel that wetness on our bodies was a great experience," said Airman 1st Class Justin Eason, 51st CES emergency management apprentice. "Simulating an exercise event is not as effective as actually performing the task. As emergency managers, we are not afforded the opportunity to be a player very often, so I jumped at this opportunity. It was awesome."

 Lucas explained how the M-295 decontamination kit is designed to help preserve individual suits by removing contamination on the overgarments, mask, gloves and boots.

 "It's really the first step in preventing contamination as these Airmen go through the line," he continued. "As they are removing their gear they need to work efficiently and stop the spread of contamination."

 After decontaminating their weapons and the outsides of your suits, participants removed their garments one piece at a time at various stations. The CPS is an overpressure system built into the facility that is an enclosure of pressurized, purified air. Carbon and HEPA, or High Efficiency Particle Attenuation, particulate filters in the CPS remove any nuclear, biological or chemical contamination from the air.
 Participants spent around 10 minutes going through all the steps to decontaminate themselves and their buddies.

 "As a player who had to physically go through the entire decontamination process it was interesting to see how our training works," said Airman 1st Class Lillian Najera, 51st CES emergency management apprentice. "Normally, we are teaching it and informing others about how this training is necessary for mission effectiveness. Being able to perform the steps and physically see how effective they are was very rewarding. It made a huge difference."

 Executing combat operations 24/7 can only be achieved as long as Airmen have time to rest and relax inside safe, secure facilities.

 "This is extremely valuable training for all involved and I have noticed everyone is taking it very seriously," said Lucas. "Our shelter management teams are receiving valuable training and the information we received is huge in our efforts to be able to complete our mission to guard the freedom of 51 million people by defending against any attack against the alliance."

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